Tips When You Start a Christmas Lights Installation Business

by | Nov 2, 2013

Tips When You Start a Christmas Lights Installation Business

If you are in a business that is busy during the summer  and things have tapered off or you’ve always had a flair for creating fabulous Christmas lights displays and some friends and neighbors would like to hire you, a Christmas lights installation business can be fun and profitable if you follow some common sense advice.

Please consult with a certified Master Electrician regarding any electrical installations where any wiring is customized or modified.  For large installations, be sure to include his rates in your quotation to your customers.

1. Take advantage of your existing customer base.  Start talking about Christmas lights and decorative lighting right away.

Think outside the box, your customers want their Christmas lights to stand out from a crowd.

Trees and bushes that can be wrapped in lights.  Consider using either net lights or mini string lights.

Gazebo, decking or other outside structures can become stunning at night with lights.  Use traditional C7 or C9 cords and bulbs to accent the outlines of buildings. Add icicle lights to the edges of the roofs.  Running the icicle lights back and forth above sitting areas makes for lovely Holiday backyard dinners in temperate November climates.

Christmas lights are an easy way to make every party more fun – so let your existing customer base know that this is a service that you offer even when the Holidays are over.

2. Surf the web to stay on top of the latest trends in lighting.  Set up a google account and set alerts on different types of lights and topics related to decorating for the Holidays.  You’ll get regular emails giving you a heads up on the latest news related to the industry.

As a professional lighting installer, you’ll want to make sure you are completely familiar with the different styles and types of lights available so you’ll know what options are available for your customers and ballpark cost figures.

C7 and C9 Christmas light bulbs and cords are a traditional favorite that still make up a large percentage of lighting during the Holidays.

For the commercial installer, this type of lighting is best purchased by the case of 1000 bulbs and in 1000 foot spools for the stringer wire.  Note, the spools have to be cut not to exceed 1000 Watts of bulbs on a single run or exceed a total length of 250 feet of 18 AWG stringer wire even if you use LED bulbs.

You can choose either LED or incandescent bulbs and they come in a wide variety of colors.  White is a traditional choice that is elegant and classic but current trends in design are showing non-traditional colors all over the country.  Teal, pink, and purple all make wonderful Christmas light displays amidst all the more traditional homes.  All of these lights make great decorations for Easter and Spring.

Miniature or mini lights are incredibly versatile and come in a huge array of wiring and bulb colors. Match the color of the wire of the lights to the color of the object or background you are lighting if you can. These lights can be run in series based on their specification – you’ll see this spec listed on the set label located near the string’s plug.

3. Use a good quality commercial clip or stake.

The last thing you want to do is revisit an installation because some discount-store clips snapped off or face an homeowner’s disappointment because you installed their lights with a power stapler.

Some clips and attachments can be permanently installed or installed with silicone – especially on stucco and horizontal surfaces. Be sure to review these options with your client.

Commercial universal stakes are less likely to break and some styles are sturdy enough to hammer into cold hard winter soil.

4. Order lights right away to see what they look like during the day and after dark to show your customers.

Think of yourself as a lighting designer. Show your customers lighting samples. You just cannot underestimate the value of this step. For every person who loves the ethereal glow of LED lighting there will be a neighbor who requires the super nova quality of a run of C9 transparent bulbs.

5. Install the lights on your own home.  

Your own home can become your best business card.

Note the time it takes you and how close your preliminary measurements for length of lights required matches reality. The most important thing you can do for a successful Christmas lights installation is  measure and re-measure.

6. Have most of your orders lined up as early in the season as possible.  

If you are behind schedule, don’t write off the season.  Warm weather might be working for you this season.  Try to work with at least a few clients and take lots of photos for next year.

All over the country, Christmas light importers and distributors start receiving their Christmas light products August.

Light sets and lighting products with 12-inch spacing have been known to run out by the beginning of November.

7. Give your first few customers a discount if they’ll let you display a yard sign.

Word of mouth and drive by advertising beats every other kind of marketing – ask any real estate agent about the power of curb appeal. Be ready to answer your phone and change your phone message to reflect your new sideline business.

You’ll be surprised to see your business grow.

8. Consult a Master Electrician and your Insurance Agent.

(It bears repeating.)

This is important – especially important if you are installing customized traditional C7 and C9 Christmas lights. Everyone seems to have a brother-in-law or someone they know who is an electrician. Play it safe and have him or her show you how to do things the correct and safe way.

Talk to your insurance agent about liability/business insurance coverage and any other appropriate insurance for your area.

9. Try to build your business to continue year ’round and be innovative in your marketing

There is always a demand for decorative lighting. Call on nurseries to wrap their display trees – a great idea for drawing in customers. Experiment with patio lighting. Medium-base cords and bulbs are great for this type of application. Call local wedding planners and let them know the services you can provide.

Setting up your own sideline Christmas lights business can be profitable all year long. You are only limited by what you want to do and how much time you want to give to it.

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6 Comments

  1. Emily Bennette

    This is some really good information about Christmas lights. I liked that you pointed out that it would be smart to consider getting a professional to install the lights. Personally, I would want to also get lights that I could easily change the lights colors.

    Reply
    • Shellie Gardner

      Thanks, glad we could help.

      Reply
  2. James Borst

    My wife and I have always put up our own Christmas lights but I’ve noticed a lot of our neighbors pay other people for their Christmas lighting. It is interesting that you recommend consulting a certified master electrition before starting a Christmas light business. I’d probably also pay attention to other Christmas lighting companies to see what they are doing too.

    Reply
  3. Light Kraft

    Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, waiting for a more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Reply
  4. Scot

    How do you figure out what to charge? By the number of bulbs, different for each type of bulb (C7/C9/miniature, constant burning/blinking), and is it a percentage of what the wire/bulbs cost?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Shellie

      Wow, that’s a tough question. Consider keeping materials and labor separate as you calculate what you’ll quote for your jobs.

      Determine your hourly rate and use it with an estimate of how long you think the job will take and then add materials costs which will vary per job.

      Make sure to do a few trial jobs – your own house, for a friend, etc. – to determine about how long install takes and be sure to include extra money in your bids to hire an electrician to check your installations.

      Also, don’t forget to include cost of insurance and any kind of permits or taxes required in your area.

      Reply

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